Science, Santa Claus, and Philosophy

If you are one of those Santa-skeptics (you know–the kind who thinks Mom and Dad are responsible for all those presents under your Christmas tree) then there’s a book written just for you: The Truth About Santa, by Gregory Mone.  This book is for readers who respect science enough to know that the traditional story of Santa Claus faces serious and familiar challenges.  For instance, according to animal physiologists, reindeer can’t fly; a thorough study of satellite images fails to reveal a workshop at the North Pole; and rudimentary mathematical skills are enough to confirm that a journey to two-hundred-million chimneys takes 190 years (not one night) if each stop lasts only thirty seconds.

How, according to Mone, does Santa do it?  Simple: Continue reading “Science, Santa Claus, and Philosophy”

The LHC: a victim of sabotoge from the future?

The New York Times recently published an essay about a new theory in physics, according to which the Higgs Boson is so abhorred by the universe that the future is conspiring to prevent the Large Hadron Collider from going online.  The physicists Holger B. Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya argue that what looks like simple bad luck (or the expected complications with such an enormous project) is really evidence of the future arranging itself so as to prevent the experiment from testing for the Higgs particle.

Nielsen and Ninomiya point out that the fundamental laws of physics (at least those of Einstein and Newton) are time-symmetric.  They argue that this symmetry allows for influences from the future as well as the more familiar influences from the past.  We can contrast their view Continue reading “The LHC: a victim of sabotoge from the future?”

Extra Dimensions Restricted by Black Hole

Extra dimensions must be smaller than previously thought.
If there are extra dimensions, they must be smaller than previously thought.

Though extra dimensions may sound like the stuff of science fiction, they are taken quite seriously by contemporary physicists and philosophers of physics. In addition to the three spatial dimensions we’re familiar with — up/down, left/right, forward/back — theories such as string theory postulate as many as 7 additional spatial dimensions. If such a theory were correct, the landscape of the three-dimensionalism / four-dimensionalism debate would need reformulation; perhaps objects are really perduring eleven-dimensional spacetime worms! Continue reading “Extra Dimensions Restricted by Black Hole”